I Marched Because Washington Doesn’t Represent Me.

For me the march was about my children.  I have 21-year-old twins, a daughter and son.  They are both at UNL.  My daughter is an Ag Ed major and my son is an El Ed major. My husband and I farm and have outside jobs in the ag field.  We believe that none of you have our best interest at heart.  Betsey DeVos is the absolute WORST thing for both students and teachers in public education, yet you all support her.  President Trump is signing EO’s so fast his head is spinning.  NAFTA and TPP were GOOD for Nebraska Ag, but none of our state leaders had the spine to fight for them.  At the same time, our state is short of money.  I march because I want my daughter and son to be protected by Title IX.  You don’t.  I march because I believe none of you have MY family’s best interests at heart.  I march because I believe in humanity and that there isn’t a boogie man behind every face.  I march for the lovely Iranian grad student and his wife and child who live across the hall from my children.  They are GOOD people and they worked HARD to get here.  I march because you are all so wrong in how you represent me.

I Marched to Believe we Can Do Better. And I Walked Away Believing We Can.

I marched. For the women and men who marched before me. And for those women and men who could not.

I marched to add greater cracks in the ceiling made of glass. And I marched for the littles who will lead our country one day.

I marched for me and the ones I love. And I marched for those I haven’t met yet.

I marched for those who believe in the resistance. And for those who don’t think they need it.

I marched for the wage gap. And for freedom of speech.

I marched to no longer be a bystander. And to exercise my rights and privileges as an American.

I marched for public schools. And for equality for all.

I marched for hope. And I marched for strength.

I marched to believe we can do better. And I walked away believing we can.

Why Wouldn’t I March? Why Didn’t You?

I grew up in a small town in central Nebraska, went out of state to college, work, and grad school, and returned to rejoin my family. Seven years ago, I started my own family here. I’m now an educator, a mom, a researcher, a wife, a small business owner, a student. I’m comfortable speaking up and speaking out. But I wasn’t sure I would march. I’m 38 years old, and I, like most of the others in this collection, had never engaged like that before. I am a lot of different things, but was I an activist, a protester?

 Eventually, I realized… why wouldn’t I march?

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that whether you’re LGBTQ, Muslim, refugee, black, immigrant, differently-abled, or female, you don’t deserve to be afraid. You don’t deserve to be treated, in the eyes of the law, the characters of Twitter, or the dismissive or derisive comments of lawmakers, as anything less than equal, whole, supported, worthy, respected, valued Humans.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I love this country, in a way I’m frankly only now discovering, as I watch the fundamental principles for which it stands being threatened and twisted through the words, actions, behavior or inaction of many who are supposed to represent us. Through a “travel ban”; through threats to the free press, the judiciary, the environment, funding for climate change and gun control research, affordable health care, public education and more; through support of waterboarding; through party-line votes and support for an unfit Secretary of Education, an unfit head of the EPA, an unfit Attorney General, to name a few.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I reject the painful, intolerant, objectifying words and regressive, intolerant, fundamentally un-American actions of President Trump, and anyone who condones or defends them.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that physical and sexual assault isn’t funny, and comments about women being not being attractive enough to be assaulted make my stomach turn, make me feel inhuman and demoralized and outraged and unsafe and confused and scared for my 7-year-old daughter. If many lawmakers don’t seem to be outraged with me. If I honor the many strong survivors I worked with at domestic violence shelters, and their beautiful scarred strong children.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that a woman’s health includes her mental, emotional, economic, and physical well-being. That she deserves the right and the respect to make her own intelligent choices about it, rather than be denied options by largely white male lawmakers who have no idea what it’s like to be her. That those who do become mothers, their co-parents, and their new babies, deserve paid parental leave from the richest country in the world.

We can do better. We must do better. We are better.

As my pastor used to preach, we’re called to “remove the chains of injustice, let those who are oppressed go free, share bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people” (Isaiah 58:6-12).  Nebraskans will continue answer that call. We will monitor and advocate and vote and fight and use our “shrill” voices to push the city, the state, the country to deliver liberty and justice for all.

Will you?

I marched because, if we are our sister’s and brother’s keepers, I didn’t know where else I could be.

Why wouldn’t I march?

Why didn’t you?

I Marched to Join Others Who Would Speak Out

march_2017_6
Photo Credit – Sara Sawatzki, Open Road Photographer 2017

It was a last minute decision!  It wasn’t that I was unsympathetic to the announced Women’s March on January 7, 2017, but I, as too often is the case, didn’t know if my marching would be of any significance.  That morning I watched on television many men, women, and children in the eastern state begin to gather as the marches started.  The closest march that I was aware of was to be held at 2:00 p.m. in Lincoln, some 60 miles away from our small rural town of Geneva. It was 10:30 a.m. when I made the decision to march.  I called several friends, and by 11:00 a.m. we had a group of five, four women (all grandmothers) and one young man (a junior in college), ready to take part in “the unknown.”

We drove to Lincoln and joined a huge crowd at the University of Nebraska Student Union.  We had no idea how many were expected, but we later learned the organizers had hoped for 1,000, 2,000 pre-registered, and approximately 4,000 marched.  It was a moving sight to see multi-generational family groups, many men, and various ethnic groups joining the “women.”

I marched because I have two granddaughters who are approaching the age when they will want and need to have a choice about their reproductive rights.

I marched because one of those granddaughters attends Omaha Central, the most ethnically diverse high school in the state.  She is bi-racial, but since the “opening of Trump’s Pandora’s box” of anti-women, anti-racial, and anti-LGBT hatred, she and her friends have been accosted with remarks never heard before.  It is as though some Americans have been given permission to spew words of hatred, bigotry, or misogyny that have been long suppressed.

I marched because I value the right to vote, and I fear that voter rights will be negatively impacted by confirmation of some of Trump’s cabinet nominations.

I marched because I was a teacher in the public schools for over 30 years, and I believe that education is a right of all, not just the rich.

I marched because I am the daughter of a farmer who honored the land, and I believe that the position the Trump administration has on climate change is uninformed and dangerous for the future of our race.

I marched; I have called senators; I have worked in my community to promote positive ideas.  In all my 76 years I have never feared to speak out, and I marched to join others who would speak out against the potential horrors of this Trump presidency.

Reproductive Rights, Affordable Care, Public Schools, Equal Rights, and to Show My Kids What it Means to be an American

I marched:

For the right to take charge of my fertility.

In early 2004, I was pregnant. The pregnancy was unplanned, but welcome, although with an approaching overseas move, the timing was terrible. However, my husband and I were still thrilled. About two weeks later, I started to bleed so I visited my doctor.

An ultrasound proved that my uterus was empty, but I was still pregnant. My doctor took a wait and see approach and two days later I went back for another ultrasound and blood test. Still, my uterus was empty and my doctor determined I needed a D&C. It was scheduled for two days later.

While on the way home from the doctor, in a snowstorm that was shutting down Omaha, I got a phone call. She wanted me to turn around that instant and come back to her office because she feared an ectopic pregnancy. My HCG levels were high enough for an 8 week pregnancy and I was in danger of a burst fallopian tube if something weren’t done that day. By the time my husband and I got back to her office, most of the staff had left because of the storm, however my doctor and her nurse stayed for me. I was given a shot of methotrexate, which was a chemotherapy drug, to end the pregnancy. I cried as the drug entered my hip, not because it hurt (it did), but because it was the end of a very loved pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies do not result in a live birth. If left untreated, they continue to grow inside the fallopian tube, until the tube finally ruptures, causing internal bleeding. This is dangerous for the woman and can lead to death if undetected. The burst fallopian tube will never work again, leading to a loss of fertility even if the woman’s life is saved.

A few weeks later, my husband and I boarded a plane to the UK. While trying to receive care at the military hospital a few days after I arrived, the first thing the doctor said to me was, “Why didn’t you want to be pregnant anymore?  How come you had an abortion?”  I was horrified that someone would think I wanted this. This was to save my life, if there had been a way to save the pregnancy, I would have done it. To ensure my health, I had to receive a pregnancy blood test every week.  Every week, the lab techs excitedly chattered about how they hoped my test was positive, while I burst into tears in their chair and told them my baby was dead.

It took me years to call this what the military doctor called it – an abortion. I ended a non-viable pregnancy to save my life and my fertility. I’m thankful every day that my Omaha doctor had the wisdom and the knowledge to take care of me. Without her care, my two children wouldn’t be born and my husband would have been a 25 year old widower. For this reason, I strongly believe in the choice and I will always be pro-choice. That is one reason I marched.

To save the ACA and continue the pre-existing condition protection.

The Affordable Care Act is a lifesaver for Americans with chronic conditions. My 8 year old has ADHD. At 8, she is now saddled with a “pre-existing condition” and without the ACA protections, she could be turned down for health insurance for the rest of her life.  Again, she is 8. ADHD is not a life-threatening condition, but after 6 years of comments from teachers about her inability to focus and learn, we put her on medication to help her focus. It was an agonizing decision as parents, but we determined we needed to try something to help our little girl. She was falling further and further behind in school and was struggling with math and reading.

She started Adderall XR on Halloween. We didn’t say anything to her teacher and waited to see if she noticed anything.  After a week, we spoke on the phone with the teacher and her first question was “what is different?” Claire was able to complete a math assessment without help and was finishing all her work during the day. We no longer spend 90 minutes at home working on assignments that she didn’t finish in class. We just received her 2nd quarter report card and she is now at grade level on all subjects and received positive marks in Staying on Task and Completes Work on Time – something that has never happened before.

Although she may find better ways to cope with her ADHD as she gets older, she will always carry this diagnosis. She deserves access to healthcare and this is why I marched.

To save the ACA and save the lifetime cap protection.

I have a friend with a chronic condition. It’s expensive and she needs quarterly prescription injections, blood work and X-rays and daily medications. Her medications cost $3000 a month and she will be on them for the rest of her life. Her medical care costs nearly $50,000 a year, barring any health changes. At this rate, she will quickly reach the old $2M threshold, leaving her ineligible for insurance as she nears the end of her life. I marched for her because her health prohibited her from marching herself.

Because Black Lives Matter

Because our kids deserve a Secretary of Education who cares about public schools

Because we’re better than a ban on Muslims

Because I want to show my kids what it means to be an American

We’re paying attention

Social bonds. To be an example for my children. To feel less alone in a “red state”. I marched for women’s equality, for black lives, for immigration, for clean water, for equal rights for fathers, for public schools, for free press, and to show the elected members of this state, and our president/administration, that we are HERE. We’re paying attention. We’re watching how you vote. We will not be silent. We won’t forget your actions come election time.